Town that knows how | January 30, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Perspective - January 30, 2009

Town that knows how

Danville did itself proud Saturday with the celebration to welcome home resident Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot who landed US Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River after its two engines failed. Thousands of people converged on the lovely lush Town Green and Front Street, which was closed off, to honor his heroic deeds in the landing and in proceeding to make sure that all 155 passengers made it to safety.

The town had just 72 hours to put together the festivities after it received confirmation that the Sullenbergers would attend, although officials knew from the time the pilot was found to be from Danville that a big welcome home was in order. The family preferred something smaller than a parade but 5,000 people and news crews from around the world insisted that everyone share this touching moment.

The celebration went off without a hitch - the bands were assembled and performed well, including "Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines." Bagpiper Nick Theriault played to draw the attention of the crowd, and Danville teen Grace Leer belted out a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Right on cue a military aircraft did a flyover. Sullenberger was honored by Mayor Newell Arnerich, Police Chief Chris Wenzel, Fire Chief Richard Price and U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney, and introduced by his wife Lorrie. After his brief comments to the cheering crowd, a private reception was held for the Sullenbergers and their friends. The thousands of others who had come to honor the hero pilot headed out, many going downtown to enjoy Sully Burgers or other specialties at Danville shops.

Everything was orderly and efficient, a nice tribute to Sully and a true community celebration, reminiscent of the Fourth of July Parade, which organizers work on for one year. The Town of Danville is to be commended for its efficiency and good taste in welcoming back Capt. Sullenberger. And although he insisted that he and the crew were just doing their jobs, Capt. Sullenberger is indeed our hometown hero.